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Cited in findananny.net – Does your teen need a nanny?

I was asked by to weigh in on the childcare needs of teens. In her article, “Does your teen need a nanny,” Shannon Philpott carefully lays the groundwork for when a  teen could benefit from a caretaker.  Keeping in mind a teen’s developmental stage and time alone are keys to determining whether a nanny is right for your teen.

Justifications for a teen nanny

As teenagers approach young adulthood and are old enough to be alone and even babysit, it’s common to wonder if they need a nanny at all. According to Alicia Clark, a licensed clinical psychologist in Washington, D.C., teenagers are increasingly independent, self-sufficient and rely heavily on their peers. “However, your teen is not at all need-free,” says Clark. “Parents are often surprised at the ongoing needs their teen has for their caregivers’ attention and support.”

Teens are busy developing and growing, and while many aspects of their brain are formed, Clark says many teens are still developing the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is involved in judgment, time management and behavioral control.

“It is in these areas of continued development that kids need continued support and guidance,” says Clark. Teens will naturally rely on their peers for attention and understanding, but too much privacy can quickly become a bad thing as teens seek out social stimulation, risky behavior and activities that often lead them to stray from tasks.

“A nanny could step in to fill many gaps in a teen’s support group, and in the household, especially when parents are busy and distracted with other obligations,” says Clark.

“It really has to do with supervision and aloneness for the teen,” says Clark. “If teens are alone without an adult for more than one to two hours a week, a nanny’s help can be justified.”

How to determine whether a teen needs a nanny

While teens need privacy and time to themselves, Clark cautions that too much generally can be a bad thing given a teen’s developing ability to control themselves. “Not only can teens not use their time appropriately, but because of their social orientation, they can get lonely easily,” she says.

“It really has to do with supervision and aloneness for the teen,” says Clark. “If teens are alone without an adult for more than one to two hours a week, a nanny’s help can be justified.”

While teens need privacy and time to themselves, Clark cautions that too much generally can be a bad thing given a teen’s developing ability to control themselves. “Not only can teens not use their time appropriately, but because of their social orientation, they can get lonely easily,” she says.

Handling Teen resistance

A teen is also wrestling with authority figures at this stage of life and authorities have to earn teen’s respect just as they have to earn adults’, says Clark. “A nanny of a teen will do best when understanding that she has to earn a teen’s trust and respect,” she says. “Communicating clearly and compassionately, while taking the role of a coach or peer counselor will help offset potential teen resistance.”

http://www.findananny.net/blog/does-your-teen-need-a-nanny/

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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